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Q: Would I be guilty of selling beer after hours in my restaurant if I collect the money for the beer before 2:00 A.M., but hold the beer for the customer in the beer cooler?  When the customer is ready to leave after 2:00 A.M., I then would give him the beer.  I ring up the sale on the cash register prior to 2:00 A.M.  I would only do this for a few good customers.

A: You would be guilty of selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages after legal hours in violation of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code.

This is all about timing, and when a “sale” is completed.  If you deliver the prepaid beer to the customer after 2:00 A.M., you could be charged with sales after 2:00 A.M. which is the time when all restaurant liquor licensees are legally required to cease sales of alcoholic beverages.  A sale has been determined by case law to involve at least two steps.  The customer gives you the money for the beer.  You then give the customer the beer and any change.  The sale is completed after you deliver the product to the customer.  The steps of the sale must be completed by 2:00 A.M.  By giving your regular customer the beer after 2:00 A.M., you are completing the sale and are furnishing alcoholic beverages after legal hours, and therefore, could be charged with the violation.

Simply complete your sale by taking the money, ring the sale up on your cash register, and turn the beer over to the customer before 2:00 A.M. to avoid any problems.

As seen in the Observer Magazine, a monthly beverage journal magazine. Edward Taraskus contributes the Know the Law column.